Wildcat Women Drop Close One to USC, 71-64

Feb. 16, 2002

Tucson, Ariz. (Feb. 16) - After digging themselves a 21-point hole at halftime, the University of Arizona women's basketball team dropped a 71-64 decision to USC at home on Saturday. The Cats slip to 13-13 overall and 9-8 in Pac-10 play, while USC goes to 14-11 overall and 10-6 in conference action.

The Women of Troy jumped on the Cats right away, going up by an 11-2 spread in the first four minutes of the game. Arizona scrapped back to within five several times over the next four minutes, but USC went on a 12-1 run to gain a 16-point (29-13) lead at 7:39. The Wildcats scored a pair of buckets to get to within 12 with just under six minutes remaining in the half, only to see USC out-score them, 15-6, for the remainder of the period. The Women of Troy held a massive 44-23 lead at the break, marking Arizona's largest halftime deficit of the season.

The Wildcats came out with intensity in the second half and opened the period with nine unanswered points to chop the deficit to 12 (44-32) in the first five minutes. Arizona couldn't seem to get any closer, and eventually USC fought back out to a 19-point (63-44) lead with 5:02 left in the game.

That was when the Cats went on a 20-3 run of their own over the next four-and-a-half minutes. That spurt was highlighted by three 3-pointers from freshman guard Dee-Dee Wheeler. Down only 66-64 with 36 seconds left in the game, Arizona was unable to get any other shots to drop after that. The Cats' strategy to foul and stop the clock was unsuccessful, as USC went 5-for-6 from the free throw line down the stretch to seal the win.

'This was a tale of two halves. The first half, USC really chomped on us, we retreated, we weren't aggressive, and we didn't rebound,' said head coach Joan Bonvicini. 'In the second half, we put pressure on them, made tough decisions, and I am proud of how we were aggressive and came back.'

Wheeler finished the contest with a career- and game-high 21 points, three assists and three steals for the Cats. Sophomore guard Aimee Grzyb had 11 points, as the only other Wildcat to reach double digits in scoring. Junior wing Krista Warren contributed eight points and a team-high seven rebounds, while senior forward Elizabeth Pickney was held to just eight points and six rebounds.

USC sophomore guard Aisha Hollans had 19 points and six rebounds, and freshman forward Rachel Woodward added 17 points and seven rebounds. Senior guard Tiffany Elmore shot 5-for-7 from the floor on her way to 10 points, and sophomore forward Ebony Hoffman pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.

Arizona end its regular season at home against rival Arizona State on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m.


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